FIDAfrique: We all produce knowledge

Coumba Fall, executive director of WARF gave a presentation on FIDAfrique network's successes and challenges to date. She reminded the participants of the objectives and scope of the network:
  • increase the impact of IFAD-funded activities by harvesting and sharing knowledge with the IFAD-funded projects and programmes and other partners and stakeholders
  • serve as a tool to support knowledge management and knowledge sharing to add value to the work of IFAD-funded projects and programmes
Coumba then provided a brief history of the network, which was established in 1999. The second phase ran from 2004-2007 and with this start-up workshop FIDAfrique has officially entered its third phase.

She mentioned that"we all produce knowledge" and proceeded with walking the participants through a SWOT analysis (Strengths, weakeness, opportunities and threats). Below is a summary of the network's successes:
  • the creation of a website which not only is hosting the content generated by the network but also hosts thematic e-discussions
  • training in knowledge harvesting (capitalization), conducting thematic capitalization
  • training on web editing and web content management
  • training on how to engage and participate in strategic thinking exercise
  • facilitating and providing backstopping in the organization of an innovation fair which show cased numerous innovative rural development projects
Network challenges:
  • KM focal points not always played a faciliation role
  • Lack of understanding of KM
  • Project programme work and budget did not necessarily include KM activities
  • Low participation by communities in knowledge capturing/harvesting activities
  • KM was often considered as non-priority activities
  • Little or no learning and sharing culture
  • Language diversity
  • Lack of access to ICTs and web, because of insufficient infrastructure (electricity, broadband etc)
  • Computers and other ICT-related tools are not adequately widespread within projects and often reside only with the project managers, which means other project staff do not necessarily have access to these tools
  • KM strategy to be included in project design
  • Workshops, face-to-face meetings, exchange visits as an opportunity to share and learn
  • KM to contribute to policy dialogue
  • Including KM in project programme of work and budget can lead to increasing efficiency and help better design future projects
  • Direct supervision and implementation support provides an opportunity to systematically capture learning and knowledge and share this both at project, national, regional and international level
  • Blend ICT and non-ICT tools to reach different audiences
Coumba informed the participants that in July 2008, FIDAfrique held a "strategic reflection" workshop. The workshop agreed on the following:
  • put in place a network steering committee
  • put in place a coordination mechanism - with two regional coordinators
  • appoint two national focal points
  • identify avenues to ensure financial sustainability of the network